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Symposium: Disentangling free speech and freedom of religion in Masterpiece Cakeshop

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Symposium: Disentangling free speech and freedom of religion in Masterpiece Cakeshop

By Eric Segall on Sep 13, 2017 at 10:33 am

Eric Segall is the Kathy and Lawrence Ashe Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law.

Jack Phillips, the co-owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple because supporting their wedding violated his religious beliefs. The couple filed suit in Colorado state court, arguing that a Colorado civil-rights law required Phillips to provide his services to all customers regardless of their sexual orientation. Phillips responded that the free speech and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibit Colorado from enforcing its civil-rights law against him under these circumstances. He argued that he is a wedding-cake artist, and that the state can’t force him to express a message (support of same-sex weddings) that he does not want to communicate because of his religious conscience.

The Supreme Court held in Employment Division v. Smith that the free exercise clause of the First Amendment is not violated by generally applicable laws not specifically directed at religion even if those laws substantially burden the ability of people to exercise their religion.  :snip: 

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